Right now many business managers are struggling with how to deal with the 101 things that seem to be part of the fall out of the shootings in Colorado. These range from requests for time off and how that is to be charged, to emotions about the event in the workplace. Policy manuals are not written for this type of thing. No one can ever imagine this type of thing and each time it happens, whether that is 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, flooding or fires, they are all unique and require a thoughtful approach.
Know that people will remember, forever, how you reacted during this stressful situation. This will affect employee morale, how customers perceive you and over all whether you can stay productive.
Here are a few quick tips for you to help in this current difficult time:
Realize that people are sad and shaken on many levels. Some people have a direct connection to those killed or injured, others have indirect connections. In either case the mourning, some anger and sadness can all be present. In dealing with this in the workplace take a moment to realize what is really happening here.
o First, the loss of life and critical injuries are a hard thing, always
o Second, the loss of life in a senseless act makes the grief that much more difficult
o Third, there is a mourning going on here for the loss of a joy, a freedom, that is just part of young adult life in America. It could be a very long time and possibly never again that people will feel 100% safe at the midnight premiere of a new film, no matter what the film.
Do be sensitive to the variety of ways people are processing this. Be careful if there is strong anger or emotions about this in public areas. You do not know how everyone is feeling about the many complexities of this and making sure that these discussions are monitored is important. If you see some extreme anger or upset, talk to the individual privately about where and how that upset or anger can be appropriately processed.
Watch for upsets that don’t make sense to occur around your workplace. Often people hold in their thoughts and feelings about something like this and the next thing you know it is coming out in an argument with a co-worker or a bad attitude in a meeting.
If you have personnel directly affected, make some extra gestures for those who have lost a friend or relative that goes beyond your typical bereavement leave. Find a way to give these people the time and space to deal with the multiple complexities of this loss.
At the same time let them know you are there as a friend if they need to talk. They may not have the resources to process this that you think they might have. If your company has a formal EAP program, now is the time to offer information on that yet again.
Sometimes coming back into the workplace sooner is what they may need to heal. If they want to do that be sure to ask if there is anything colleagues can do to make that transition easier. Some people want to talk in the lunch room, some people don’t want to talk in the lunch room. Have a candid conversation with your employees about what is best for everyone.
Be watchful, aware and sensitive.
When you don’t know what to do, ask for help from someone who may be able to give you a better handle on the situation. In today’s world the workplace often plays a crucial role in the healing from these situations.